Numbers represent powerful images for humans. Seven means good luck in some cultures, the number of God in others. Thirteen looms negative for many people while others attempt to connect this number to earth-based origins. In the Hebrew language, letters are also numbers, creating amazing possibilities and combinations to consider.
The numbers 911 will always stand for the horrors of that day in 2001 when the towers fell and two other jets crashed. What used to be the number to call for an emergency has now become a symbol of an image that most of the world watched through two letters – TV. 2,973 also has a new meaning for most American citizens: the number of people who died on 911 due to the jet-bombs that changed the world.
Now five years later, the letters TV once again show the images over and over for us to relive the moment and the grief that ensued. Radio covers the spectacle via news, music, and the ever present sound bites that we all easily swallow. Like a wound that never healed, we will not forget the day, and the Spectacle will not let us.
So many angles cover this day, so I won’t bother giving my story and $0.02 worth.
I keep asking myself “how am I supposed to feel” after five years of a postmodern, post-911 paradigm? Grief comes in stages and moves through each of us in different ways, so I can’t buy into the flag-waving, scab-pulling images and sounds that try to tell me what to feel about that day. I like dealing with my grief in small, personal ways, and in private or with friends.
Back to numbers. Since these symbols (Indian in origin and relayed to Europeans by Arabs in Baghdad) hold so much weight, I thought I’d spend this powerful date on our calendar reflecting on other numerical combinations.
- Native Americans killed by European Americans: ~39,000,000
- World War I deaths: 22,000,000
- Deaths in USSR during Stalin regime: 13,000,000
- Deaths due to German Nazi government: 12,000,000 (source, ibid)
- Deaths in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia during US Vietnam War (1960-1975): 2,000,000 (source, ibid)
- Iraqi deaths due to 1990 UN embargo: ~1,000,000
- Filipinos killed by US Military (1898-1910): 600,000
- Deaths in Darfur, Sudan (2003-present): ~400,000
- Japanese deaths from US atomic bombs: ~210,000
- US Civil War deaths: 191,963
- Iraqi deaths since Operation Iraqi Freedom: ~41,650